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Sailing organizers downplay Olympic wind woes
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The Chinese organizers on Monday played down concerns about light wind conditions in Qingdao, venue for the 2008 Olympic sailing events, saying the coastal city is absolutely capable of providing adequate racing conditions.

Speaking to a pack of Chinese journalists, Qingdao Vice Mayor Zang Aimin said that judging from the last two years' test events and the meteorologic data for the past 30 years, Qingdao's wind conditions can meet the standards to hold Olympic sailing competitions.

"Though the city's wind conditions are far from perfect, we are confident that the Olympic sailing events can proceed without a hitch," she said.

Average August wind speeds in Qingdao are about 5 meters per second --over the minimum required for racing by international rules, but short of the ideal, 7 to 8 mps.

Several of the scheduled races in the 2006 and 2007 Qingdao International Regatta, the test events for the Olympic sailing competitions, were postponed or canceled due to light winds.

Zang said scheduling more lay-off days in between racing days would allow help to make up any backlog this summer. "We will schedule a 15-day period in order to play safe," she said.

Zang acknowledged that light winds are a challenge for foreign athletes.

"Of course, it may be a problem for European and U.S. athletes who are used to sailing under big winds," she said. "But everybody competes under the same situation. They'll have to adapt to the winds of China."

(Xinhua News Agency January 8, 2008)

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